Driving me up the wall

By | 26 June, 2009
Learning to drive at 88mph

Learning to drive at 88mph

This is a public service announcement. Very soon there will be a new hazard on the roads in and about Edinburgh. This hazard is particularly lethal and all drivers in the area should use extreme caution when venturing onto the public highways.

Yes, you’ve guessed, I’m learning to drive!

“But Tim”, I hear you cry, “you’re ancient, surely you’ve passed your driving test?” Well, the sad fact is that I’ve got to the ripe old age of 32 without ever having had a single driving lesson (except for an hour on a disused airfield near Bath with my mate Dave ten years ago – but I don’t suppose that really counts).

Up until fairly recently I’ve always been a city slicker, happy to dwell in the pollution, noise and misery of city centres. This may have had it disadvantages (for example, I used to live on the top floor of an utterly tiny tenement flat in the centre of Edinburgh; it was 160 years old and had subsided like mad about a century ago – therefore there wasn’t a single level surface in the whole damned place). However, it did mean I was within easy walking distance of work and the pub. So why bother spending the cash on driving lessons?

But now I’ve moved out to the suburbs and while we live on a fantastic bus route (thanks Lothian Buses!) I’ve run out of excuses and it’s time to book some lessons.

Now, as most drivers will know us pancreatically-challenged pariahs can’t get a full UK driving licence. No, we’re only allowed a limited licence and so we have to re-apply to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) every three years who then make sure we haven’t been mowing down innocent pedestrians while in hypoglycaemic comas at the wheel.

I suppose that’s fair enough really; I wouldn’t want to be in charge of a tonne of quickly moving metal while my BG hovered around 2.0 – that’s just insanity. But what gets my goat (and Alison’s – I know as we were chatting about it via email recently) is that similar rules are not applied to other drivers.

If you pass your test at seventeen a driver with a working pancreas gets a full licence that doesn’t expire until their 70th birthday. That’s just over half a century between passing a simple test and being reassessed – now surely that’s insanity.

Aside from the whole not-producing-insulin thing, diabetics are usually quite healthy – the same cannot be said for the populace at large. Just think of the myriad drivers out there who never have their eyes tested, who might be effected by Type Two and not know or suffer from the zillions of other things that might effect their ability to control a vehicle.

So while I might be a hazard on the roads from now the terrifying thought is that there are already a load of hazzardous drivers out there already.

15 thoughts on “Driving me up the wall

  1. Alison

    Be assured, my goat is truly got regarding all the issues above and I can be provoked into a rant about it with very little effort! Good luck Tim, although as I quite like my life I’ll be steering clear of Scotland for the foreseeable future.

  2. Tim

    Alison :
    I’ll be steering clear of Scotland for the foreseeable future.

    Ah, but you’ll be missing our on all the good things Scotland can offer – deep fried haggis, deep fried clootie dumpling, deep fried Arbroath smokie and random sectarian violence. What’s there not to like?

    1. Alison

      If you’d have included that old Scottish favourite the deep fried Mars bar on that list I might have risked the trip, but I’m afraid it’s just not worth the drive for a deep fried clootie dumpling (whatever that is!).

  3. Tim

    A clootie dumpling is basically fat and sugar and thus – like lots of Scottish cuisine – a heart-attack on a plate (http://www.scottishrecipes.co.uk/clootiedumpling.htm )! Yum!

    [As an adopted Scot, I have to say that Scottish cooking is actually some of the best in the world – fantastic Aberdeen Angus beef, Loch Fyne oysters, wonderful venison, amazing sea food, etc. The best meal I ever had was in Scotland (at the Habour Inn in Bowmore on the island of Islay – bloody sublime!)]

  4. CALpumper

    What? Limited license? What?
    In the States, we have to update our license (not driving Ability) every 7 yrs. And our “health” Never comes up (unless you want to drive a big truck or that is your primary job function)
    And the whole 17 to 70 and it Never expires?

    Go get ’em Tim! 😉

  5. Tim

    @CALpumper Essentially, as a diabetic we have to renew our licence every three years. You don’t have to re-take the test or anything – it’s basically to make it easier to take away your licence if you drive with your BG under 1.5 all the time 😉

    If you’re not diabetic, you don’t have to renew your licence until you’re 70.

    1. Alison

      @Tim & CALpumper – the other critical thing they check when you go through the 3 yr renewal process is that you can still see properly – quite handy for driving. That’s the most irritating bit, the amount of half blind idiots driving round without a second thought just because they have a working pancreas. I’d have thought it would be useful to check every now and again that everyone who drives can see, rather than just us diabetic types.

  6. Katie

    whoopppieee!!!! does that mean I get to call you James and sit in the back seat shouting orders?!

  7. Katie

    Harsh Mr Brown, harsh!
    But probably true – that’s the role of wives and I take the role exceedingly seriously

    1. Alison

      Mrs Brown it sounds like you are fulfilling the role of wife perfectly, a woman after my own heart!

  8. Scott K. Johnson

    Very interesting stuff! I think here is varies state by state. For example, in Minnesota, I have to get a form signed by my doctor periodically (anywhere from 6 months to 2 years) that states I am in “good enough” control of my diabetes and should be allowed to drive. I always like to hear how it works outside of where I live.

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